Lullaby

Once upon a time
when baby had trouble
going to sleep
we played
soothing songs
on our phones
until she drifted off

and baby grew
(that is what babies do)
so that now
when we put baby down
to sleep
she cries for a minute
and then
she sings
and sings
to her own little self
without any words
a sound purer
than songs of birds

(know that I am outside your door
beloved baby
tears in my eyes
listening
listening
to your own angelic
lullaby)

Someone’s getting sleepy…

Blithe memory

My grandmother loved music
all of her life.
She wanted me to love it, too.
And so she took me to
Murphy’s Mart
(if memory is correct)
to buy a child’s chord organ.
I looked at the pretty blue instrument
and chose a doll instead.
Grandma couldn’t understand.
But you love playing my organ…
don’t you want one of your own?
At the time I didn’t have words to say
I love music but it isn’t my destiny.

The doll, called Blythe,
had eyes that changed color
when I pulled a string:
blue
green
pink
orange.
I picked her instead
of the music.

Grandma, dismayed,
bought her anyway.
It was only the beginning
of my fascination
with seeing the world
through lenses
of many colors.

Maybe it was then
that a writer
instead of a musician
was born.

Neo Blythe ‘Bohemian Peace. MissBlythe. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

I have learned, in researching my Blythe doll, that Kenner only made them for a year (1972) in the U.S. A Japanese company bought them out. An original Blythe doll is now worth a couple of thousand dollars. I don’t know what became of mine, unfortunately. My grandmother’s own glossy-wood Roxy chord organ from the 60’s, however, stands in my foyer. In the end, it’s infinitely more priceless to me.

See another good example of Blythe at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=897056547546831.




Why I Write—2022

Every year for National Day on Writing, I reflect on why I write.

It’s like looking at a diamond ring in a semi-darkened room. Different facets catch the light, scattering sparks of brilliant color, red to orange, green to blue. Writing, for me, is an inner fire. A living fire. It is in my blood the way that farming was in my grandfather’s blood, that music is in my son’s, that crafting was in my mother’s, that a love of children was in my grandmother’s. I see different facets even in these comparisons. Farming is about sustenance. Cultivating the earth, harnessing resources to make it produce—this is what earth is designed to do. Music is expression, form, response, sounds in time, even color. It can be endlessly repeated and replicated; it is the unique and universal language of humankind. Crafting…it takes skill to make a new, useful thing from pieces placed exactly right, sewing them together so that the seams don’t detract. My mother was given a hand-me-down sectional sofa covered with pink scratchy fabric (it was 1970s horrible). She studied it, measured it, bought earth-tone floral fabric and cording and systematically created a custom slipcover that lasted for years. The love of children…does this not tie all of the above? Creating, nurturing, producing, expressing, a contribution to the future.

Writing is all of this.

One can make the argument that all these things are learned, and so they are. But that doesn’t account for the compulsion to do them even when there is no need. Granddaddy gardened into his nineties when he didn’t have to produce his own food anymore, when all he could manage was two small rows in the old dog pen after the dog was dead and gone. He carried a chair to sit on and rest between the kneeling to weed. My son hears all the instruments, all the harmonies, in a song; he spends hours recording a song over and over with different instruments, singing the different vocals, until it all comes together like he wants it…simply for the joy of accomplishing it. My mother received little income from the clothes she made for people; she crocheted countless baby blankets as gifts. She made flop-eared stuffed bunnies with changeable clothes, for the whimsical fun of it, never making a dime. Craftsmanship is beauty unto itself. Like art. Like music. My grandmother’s face shone like the sun at sight of children. I was one of her greatest beneficiaries, my life indelibly shaped, still being shaped, by her love. I might also mention it was Grandma who sparked my love of reading and writing long before I could do either.

Writing, in the end, has much to do with story. At least for me. The story of having lived and loved. The story of seeking the beautiful. The story of gratitude for finding it, in all of life’s brilliant facets and sparks, even in the shadows. There would not be shadows if there were no light. It is there, always there, for the capturing.

And so I write.

Necklace given to me by my father. Years later, it still shines.

Spiritual Journey: Revenants

with thanks to Chris Margocs for hosting October’s Spiritual Journey Thursday. Chris invites our group to write about those who have passed and left something behind in our hearts, in preparation for the upcoming holidays of All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. She says: “As a person of Celtic heritage, the idea of the thinning of veil between here and the hereafter on these days intrigues me…”

—Me, too, Chris.

*******

The stirrings begin with the first breaths of cooler air.

As September gives way to October, while the trees and grass are still green, before any obvious turnings of yellow, orange, or fiery red, they appear.

I sense them most often at doorways. Portals.

There, on weatherworn sidewalks, a smattering of fragments from dead leaves surreptitiously dropped—I can never tell exactly from where—comes to life just as I approach. A soft rattling, a lifting, a sudden swirling… the upswept pieces begin dancing in a circle.

Fairies, I think.

And then I think, Children.

Small children delight in collecting such things, bits of leaves, tiny twigs, acorn caps, a butterfly’s bright-patterned wing, cicada shells. Nature’s cast-off scraps of life. In the hands of a child, they become treasures, magical objects, if only for a moment, in the mind of the child.

Watching the leaf-bits dancing in a circle, round and round and round again, I wonder if invisible children are at play. I almost want to linger long enough to hear them laughing…for there’s a stab of joy in it that I cannot explain, a piercing longing, a wild freedom…why should I perceive these things?

I wonder, then, about memories, so like the leaf fragments rising anew at the portals as I continue walking through the stations of my life, here to there, there to here…it is real, this revenant of my own childhood, the child that I was, holding onto the treasures that were given to me, reliving the precious bits that remain. As memories swirl round and round, I delight in them, in re-immersing for a moment in long-ago moments with people I loved, who loved me, who sheltered me, sustained me, prepared me…and who are gone but never far away. I see their faces before me, their eyes shining. I remember their stories. I hear their voices: I love you.

People die. Love does not.

Autumn comes with its fiery promises, its contrasts, its losses; trees will soon release their fragile organs in hopeful glory of surviving the winter. They shall sleep until spring, until the reawakening, life made new.

I walk on, remembering, wrapping gratitude round and round me like a hooded cloak, still sheltered, sustained, loved, awed by the beauty that deepens around me every passing year.

The stirrings begin with the first breath of cooler air.

Dancing revenants of what was, hinting at what is to be.

Perhaps they are whispering Allhallowtide.

The baptism

Faith of a child

pure and bright

trusting the shepherd

for guiding light

*******
in celebration of my granddaughter’s baptism
by my pastor-son

“Behold our God shall live with us, And be our steadfast Light,
And we shall e’er his people be, All glory be to Christ.”

—Dustin Kensrue